Gymnastics or other sports with nut allergy

My oldest daughter has been diagnosed for about 7 years now with a peanut and tree nut allergy (and she has had anaphylactic reactions before). Both of my girls have been attending this gymnastics gym for about 2 years now. Over the last few months I've noticed how out of control this place is with nutty snacks everywhere! Seriously you'd think these kids and their parents believe that's the only way to get protein.

Every class I notice about 5 kids who walk around with their nut bars potentially spreading it all over the gym. I'm pretty sure they don't wash hands after eating them either so that opens the potential for contaminating bars and beams and mats and everything.

After I saw a coach go high five my allergic kid immediately after eating, I asked the office if they'd be able to implement a plan since their gym is a minefield for my daughter (and she can't be the only one!). They said they'd pass that along 'to the powers that be'.

This past week I watch a family come in and put pistachios all over the table next to where my daughter is practicing. Every crack, I cringe. Every crumb that falls. They are finally finished and leave nuts in the chair, did not wipe the table and did not wash hands. I go speak with the office again, and they tell me they won't consider making any changes. I tell them I'll consider pulling them over it and they just shrug their shoulders. Is there really nothing I can do? I feel like if I pull them, I'm only letting them down.

By aphalon on Mon, 06-30-14, 13:18

Hello,

You may be able to request disability accommodations for your allergic gymnast. There are federal laws (known as Section 504) that require a wide variety of facilities and programs to provide reasonable accommodations to persons with disabilities.

Simply keeping all snacks away from the gym mats and other equipment and asking all participants to wash their hands after eating would be a reasonable accommodation. Of course, your allergic gymnast will be on alert to protect herself and will carry her emergency meds with her, but there is no reason to create extra danger. It is also unhealthy and potentially hazardous to the equipment to have food all over the gym. My niece's gym keeps all food out of the room. Water in close able bottles is ok, but everything else is enjoyed in a waiting are outside the gym.

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By aphalon on Mon, 06-30-14, 13:20

One important point: Even privately-run businesses that are open to public participation must abide by the disability-accommodation laws. Consider that restaurants which usually exclude animals must allow service dogs.

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By Brittany.kaylasmom on Sun, 06-29-14, 16:32

Thanks for your responses. All I wanted to do was possibly help them and my family to make it a safe place. With the thousands of kids that go there, mine can't be the only one diagnosed. After lots of thinking and crying, I came to the conclusion that we would have to leave. And you are right about them being a place I don't want my children involved with. When I went to pay my final balance and withdraw them, the office manager screamed at me for politely disagreeing with her. So yes, so relieved to not have my family affiliated with them any longer. I did end up finding another gym that is much smaller, but also more focused on quality versus how many children and checks they could get going through there. The owner pretty much eased my fears immediately and I knew this would be a safer place for us.

I still would love to see some sort of regulations put in place for kids sports though. Not everyone understands, but seriously snacks are just as important as helmets and pads are in my opinion!

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By mom1995 on Sun, 06-29-14, 15:20

So sorry for the issue. The fact is no there is nothing you can do. It sounds like it is a private owned business so they are not required to do anything. However you can go on yelp and google and every other site to offer your own review. As well as share with every parent you know. The bottom line is they do not care about the kids they are instructing. They just want the checks. So with that in mind are they really the kind of people you want in your daughters lives? There will be people in the world that just won't care it is unfortunate but true. Call around and find another option for your daughters with people who will put thier well being first. There were things our daughter did not do for the same reason but on the other hand we also found GREAT places that understood and cared enough to ensure her safety. The good is greater just harder to find sometimes. Hope this helps in some way. Good luck.

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By PeanutAllergy.com on Thu, 07-03-14, 17:58

Question of the Week: Answered!

Every week, PeanutAllergy.com is answering one of the questions posted in our community.

Our Answer:

Thank you for sharing your predicament with our community. We empathize with you as the office won’t consider making any changes to accommodate your daughter’s food allergy.

Although we’re all hoping for more agreeable, nut-free policies for places like this gym, we have to deal with the current circumstances as best we can. However, a nut-free environment may not necessarily be the solution. To read a firsthand opinion on why nut-free schools could actually be harmful to children with nut allergies, you may appreciate this account by a mother of a fourth-grade student. She gives insight into the obstacles our children face and how being overly sheltered can hinder their development.

In this article, another mother shares her account of spreading food allergy awareness in her teenage son’s school and helping keep the school bus safe for him.

Both of these mothers instilled a sense of independence in their children and made sure their children knew to be constantly cautious. The mothers also did their best to educate others about the dangers of peanut allergy.

Hopefully you can make some progress with fellow parents and decrease the risk as much as possible while keeping your children alert. You may want to try suggesting some nut-free snacks to other parents, or better yet take something for the entire class to show your appreciation of their cooperation. Some of our snack recipes are nut-free as well as peanut-free.

If there is no improvement and you continue to feel that your children are in a dangerous environment, pulling them may be the right option. Genuinely trying to educate others and trying to create a safer environment won’t be considered letting them down.

We asked our Facebook fans for their advice, and you can read their responses here.

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